By Betheena Unite
To travel from the southern to northern part of Metro Manila in less than an hour may no longer be a pipe dream once all the road projects that connect the two areas are finished in three years.
Both Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and the NLEX Corporation President Luigi Bautista said that while it remains a dream for the Philippines to achieve such smooth travel around the National Capital Region (NCR), it is also the major goal of the government and NLEX, the government’s concessionaire in key expressway projects for the country in three years time.
“It is actually the goal (to shorten the travel time around Metro Manila),” Villar said during a forum organized by the Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists held in Quezon City Thursday.
“When I finish my term as the secretary of the department, I will take a drive from south to north, and I hope that it won’t take me 10 hours,” he quipped.
Bautista, on the other hand, said that with all the ongoing elevated expressway projects, travel from South to North will no longer have to be about going through the grueling traffic on EDSA or C-5.
“I live in San Pedro, Laguna, my office is in Balintawak, and I dream to go to my office in 20 to 25 minutes. Well, that can happen when the Skyway is finished, when the connector of SLEX and NLEX is finished. So when I get on South Luzon Expressway and go out the ramp of skyway ang labas ko na noon ay Mindanao Avenue,” Bautista said.
The department is targeting to finish key road projects that will connect the south and the north areas of Luzon — the Luzon Spine Network Program — by 2022 under the government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
Under this ambitious program, various elevated expressways will be built to loop the south and the north with minimal encounters with the overly-congested highways.
Harbor Link Segment 10 that connects Manila to Caloocan, offering an alternate route for vehicles, especially trucks to NLEX, bypassing EDSA, was recently completed. This is a major link that will complete the dream to travel around the metropolis in less than an hour, the officials said.
One of the key projects for the “dream,” according to Villar, is the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 (MMSS-3), an elevated expressway that will link South Luzon Expressway in Buendia, Makati to Balintawak, Quezon City.
Another vital project that will complete the dream travel would be the NLEX-SLEX Connector that would complement MMSS-3 to another skyway leading to C-3 in Caloocan. This will be built over the Philippine National Railway right of way.
Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAEX), which started construction this week, was also defined as one of the key projects that will make the envisioned travel experience possible as it will provide people from the South a shorter travel time from Binan, Laguna to Cavite.